Monday, September 26

Illegal, Immoral or Fattening

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you. --1st Corinthians 5:11-13

Dr. Laura Schlessinger advises some of her callers that unless someone is participating in something "illegal, immoral or fattening", it's best to just mind one's own business and keep a lip zipped. Recognizing that which is illegal or fattening should be a slam dunk for most people. Defining immoral actions seems to be increasingly problematic for the population at large; even more elusive is the ability of some to take action against such activities. Even Christians are hesitant to speak up and do what it takes to traverse the moral high ground.

Fearful of being labeled as an insensitive or self-righteous hypocrite, some Christians will do everything possible to avoid confronting evil. This is especially true when it involves individuals in our own circles. We are tempted to think that we shouldn't judge those who are in the church because they are "our own." We misalign our loyalties, preferring to be "tolerant" of immoral behavior in order to preserve our worldly relationships at the cost of devaluing God's laws and His absolute sovereignty.

Sadly, immoral behavior occurs far too often within the church. This has been happening throughout history and will most likely continue. Because the church is comprised of sinners, there will always be some people who would rather continue to be enslaved by their old nature instead of taking on a new self that comes from a growing relationship with Christ. This type of behavior can be either blatant or subtle in appearance.

Although salvation is a one-time acceptance of the gift of grace and comes through faith and not works, our actions are outward displays of the Holy Spirit's work in us. Just as a tree's fruit gives a measure of the overall health of the tree, the fruit of our actions serves as a barometer of our spiritual health. God demands that a tree bearing bad fruit or no fruit at all be cut off. Even if a tree has been subject to all the right conditions to grow and bear good tasting good, there is no guarantee that the fruit will appear in due season. A discerning farmer knows that it is a waste of time, effort and resources to continue to water such a tree, and he won't just stop there. He will cut it down and plant a new tree in its place in order to make good use of the soil.

Similarly, some people refuse to grow in spiritual maturity. They may attend church all their lives and act in a way that they believe is "moral." However, when compared to the standard set by God's Word, these people fall far short.

Each of us has a responsibility to judge justly (an appropriately) those within the walls of our churches who call themselves our Christian brothers. If a tree is bearing bad fruit, we are obligated to take the actions required to get rid of that tree before it has an opportunity to weaken or otherwise threaten the health and stability of those around it. The longer we refuse to confront immorality, greed, idolatry and slander in the church, the easier it becomes for such behavior to be deemed acceptable.

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